Archive for March 18th, 2009

by jhwygirl

I’m asking. Seriously. It’s been on my mind.

Is the environment a ‘platform’ issue for progressives? Or is just one of the 10,000 things that they/we care about? I mean – is not caring about the environment a deal breaker? Does not caring make you not a progressive?

Obviously I care about it…but that doesn’t mean everyone does. Hell – I even wonder sometimes if I’m a progressive. So my ability to know whether the environment is something everyone cares about is somewhat shaded by my own prejudices (and ignorance as I’m sure some would say.)

Seeking some clarity on that matter. Whatever you can offer up will be kindly appreciated.

by jhwygirl

Just Thursday and Friday here, folks. For a complete list of committee hearings, check this out.

On Thursday, in Senate Fish & Game, is HB190, which is Rep. Kendall Van Dyke’s bridge access bill. The surviving bill which has a pretty large showdown not only in committee, but on the House floor. HB190 was blogged several times here. Time to send a second round of support for this bill into the Senate committee – Lindsey Hern is the secretary – lhern@mt.gov

Sen. Bob Story has SB507 which would allow for the issuance of “easements, leases and licenses” on the beds of navigable rivers, for water appropriators. While this one is for current users, there is no MEPA requirement. Ugh. Further, doesn’t look like there is any concern about ensuring public access across the streambed. Some of these structures block entire channels. Think Tucker Headgate on the Mitchell. Think any one of a half-dozen or so large overflow dams on the Bitterroot, the Blackfoot and the Clark Fork (and hey – that’s just around here). What about endangered fish species? Bull trout? This state is significantly funding those efforts and we’re going to permanently grant easements for these things? This is in Senate Taxation (Senate Taxation? Really?) Debra Polhemus the secretary – dpolhemus@mt.gov.

Now to Friday: Remember Sen. Shockley’s Protect-the-Protester bill? SB497 has been amended quite a bit and has now passed through the Senate. Honestly, the ridiculous things that time gets wasted on up there. Read the amended version. We need a law to say that people are allowed to protest demonstrate? And we need a law to protect protesters demonstrators? Let’s just kill this thing in House Judiciary, shall we? Let them get the real work done of budget and approving the Governor’s appointees?/snark Jennifer Eck the secretary – jeck@mt.gov.

Sen. Keith Bales wants to expand types of elections that may be conducted by mail ballot election. SB394 has made it out of the Senate and is now in the House. Mail in elections save taxpayers money. Save local governments money. Help this one along, people. In House State Administration – Marshall McEwen the secretary – mmcewen@mt.gov.

Sen. Ron Erickson has SB326 out of the Senate and now in the House. It would revise medical marijuana laws by allowing licensed caregivers to grow and provide the stuff registered patients. In House Human Services, Santella Baglivo the secretary – sbaglivo@mt.gov.

Rep. Carolyn Pease-Lopez has HB591 which would require an American Indian member on the Board of Parole and Pardons. This has made it out of the House with decent bipartisan support. Montana’s Constitution requires equal representation on boards and committees – yet the current Board of Parole and Pardons has no American Indian. Via Left in the West, Jay points us award-winning American Indian journalist Jodi Rave’s report on the disproportionate share of American Indians in Montana prisons and the ugly system it produces. Montana Human Rights Network member and lobbyist Jamee Greer writes, too, about why having an American Indian member on the Board of Parole and Pardons in important. Make sure this one gets some support. In Senate Judiciary – Pam Schindler the secretary – pschindler@mt.gov.

Rep. JP Pomnichowski has HB156, which would provide for uniform penalties for zoning violations. This one could use the extra insurance of public support, people – since it is now in Senate Local Government. Try and give this one some support – Debra Polhemus the secretary – dpolhemus@mt.gov.

I got to this late, I know. Please, if you can, get a call out to the committees for the above-mentioned Thursday hearings? The Session Information Desk phone lines open at 7:30 – 406-444-4800 to leave a message for an entire legislative committee. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

If using the email addresses above, make sure to mention both the bill number and to request that your email be forwarded to the committee members.

Keep on keeping on….

by Pete Talbot

Missoula’s Sustainable Business Council, a seven-year-old, non-profit organization with over 150 members from the business community, sponsors a lecture series on sustainability.

A fine example will be the Thursday, March 19, Perspectives on Sustainable Community. It starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Missoula Children’s Theatre mezzanine, 200 N. Adams St., and is free and open to the public. There’ll be some snacks and beverages there, too.

This presentation features Missoula Mayor John Engen and former Missoula Mayors Daniel Kemmis and Mike Kadas, with former Bozeman Mayor Steven Kirchhoff, discussing how to create and maintain sustainable communities in Montana.

The SBC does a bunch of other stuff, too, like promoting a Buy Local campaign. You can check out its website at www.sbcmontana.org.

(Full disclosure: I’m a past board member but resigned recently. SBC is a nonpartisan organization and in case you hadn’t noticed, I have a political agenda and I didn’t want to tarnish that fine group.)

by jhwygirl

I’ve gone and added 4 new links (including one blog) from three very fine organizations – and I’m sure you all are going to be just as interested in ’em. The blog is a collaborative effort that includes posters from all of these orgs, plus some others, including former State Senator Jim Elliot. All of them are going into the Citizen’s Info category.

The Montana Human Rights Network is a fine organization that has been doing great work in Montana, exposing hate crimes, racism and social injustice for decades. All-too-occasional blogger Jamee Greer is now a lobbyist for that MHRN.

See – some lobbyists are good!

The Montana Environmental Information Center has been hard at work railing against the wealth of bad environmental laws proposed this session, and speaking in support of the good ones.

The Policy Institute is a Helena-based organization that blends authoritative research and hands-on political engagement to create public policy based on economic justice, fair taxation, corporate accountability and environmental responsibility.

I’ve caught some of their testimony a while back in the House Taxation committee. That was when I first heard of The Policy Institute. It was during proponent testimony to Rep. Dave McAlpin’s HB395 (now stalled in committee). The bill wished to add a new top tax rate to those making $250,000 a year or more. During the hearing, the following exchange occurred – and it was then I knew that The Policy Institute people were both good people and smart people:

During the question-and-answer part of the hearing, Rep. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, and a retired economics professor, asked one witness:

“If we pursue the logic of the argument that reducing taxes rates increases tax revenues, don’t we maximize tax revenues when we make the tax rate zero?” Barrett asked, tongue-in-cheek.

Replied Decker: “That’s where the logic leads.”

Finally – The Policy Institute has its own legislative session blog. I’m just finding out about this one, and it will be daily reading for me. Excellent stuff here – Session 61




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